20th century was marked by miraculous phenomena of Internet which brought revolution in many sectors. IT landscape of the world brought in new repercussions for the world and the changed landscape brought new socio-cultural dimensions for people of the world. Another ramification due the emergence of IT was prevalence of e-commerce, which later changed the business scenario of the world. Similarly, Pakistan also endured changes in its society due to IT revolution; rise of e-commerce in Pakistan was another tilt transpired due to fidgeted business fringes.
IT development swept in Pakistani society in late 1960’s when government recognized the IT revolution occurring in the world and it started gaining momentum in 1995 when Internet Service Providers (ISPs) started providing Internet services. Since then, gradual changes started occurring in business mode with emergence of new dimensions and opportunities and these savoring changes also changed consumer’s behavior of buying products and consuming services.
Pakistan resides in a region where e-commerce giants like Alibaba of China, with its online payment service Alipay akin to Paypal, considered as largest mobile payment platform and Flipkart, e-commerce website of India are hovering e-commerce sphere of the region. So, Pakistan’s e-commerce has to nurture itself by contending with other countries’ fostering e-commerce market.
However, there are certain constraints in Pakistan which are hindering progress of e-commerce, including accessibility of people to internet and availability of digital devices like smart phones and laptops to people. E-commerce market size in Pakistan is $60 million, with only 3% shoppers as compared to 72% online buyers in US. But boom of 3G and 4G have created a burgeoning development in accessibility of internet to people and the 3G/4G users have reached 24.709 million per statistics. Whereas, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) acclaims that mobile phone users in Pakistan have reached 125.899 million.
These statistics show that apparently the core elements required for growth of e-commerce in Pakistan are slowly getting on track, however; still there are certain issues which need consideration. The non-availability of payment platforms and the e-commerce market is a major deterrent in intriguing consumers to shop online. COD (Cash on Delivery) is major transection method in Pakistan with 80% of transactions done through it. Though, branchless banking (Telenor’s Easy Paisa, Zong and Askari Bank’s Timepey, Mobilink’s Mobicash etc.) and Inter Bank Fund Transfer (IBFT), are also somewhat functional,but they are not that efficient in Pakistan.
Moreover, lack of user’s trust on such platform doesn’t let users to do online shopping like exposing credit card number etc., thus hampering robust progress of e-commerce. Though, government have taken numerous steps to flourish e-commerce in Pakistan, one such example being establishment of Arfa Technology Tower in Lahore, which is involved in strengthening youth and also provides platform to entrepreneurs to get an incubator for cultivating their ideas and getting their dreams ripened ultimately.
When we look at the number of emerging local as well as International entrepreneurs in their respective e-commerce domain in Pakistan, like Tripkar, Shophive, Homeshopping, ROZEE, , and Pakwheels, then one really feels contented considering the coming e-commerce scenario of Pakistan. It is quite evident that whatever is the current situation, with joint struggles of government and civil society, and development of firm e-commerce boosting strategies, e-commerce future in Pakistan will be brighter one; wait and struggle to open the gate; stream of e-commerce is waiting to gush.